By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
As was the case with the Class A power rankings for football in the fall, this has turned into the winter of discontent for many basketball coaches and fans in the state’s smallest classification.
The power ranking system, used for the first time in state history to determine playoff participants and seedings, came under fire by some football coaches who thought aspects of it hurt deserving teams. Now some basketball coaches are balking as well, particularly when it comes to two aspects of the system in basketball — no points for playing out-of-state teams and no extra points for playing teams from higher classifications.
However, Ralph Swearngin, executive director of the Georgia High School Association, said most of the complaints haven’t reached his office.
“I honestly haven’t heard many,” Swearngin said this week. “I’m not saying that no one has issues with the system but I really haven’t heard any complaints.”
In football, Class A teams were awarded an extra two points for every classification higher an opponent was than Class A. So games against AAA teams were worth at least four points. But in basketball, there are no extra points for playing teams from larger classifications.
“In football, when one team has 35 players and the other team has 70, the team with more players has a distinct advantage and usually wins,” Swearngin said. “But that’s not the case in basketball. In basketball, the numbers don’t matter as much, which is why you have states like Indiana where there is one state champion.”
In reference to games against out-of-state foes, in football, those opponents were treated like in-state games, with points awarded according to the size of the school, based on the GHSA’s school population scale. However, in basketball, teams get no credit at all for playing a team from out of state, no matter how highly ranked that team might be.
“The rationale there is that in football, some of the teams that are on or near the boarder [of Georgia] almost had to play teams from other states because of the logistics involved,” Swearngin said. “That’s not the case with basketball. There are enough schools of similar size within proximity that compete in basketball to where you don’t have to play out-of-state games, unless you choose to do so.”
Still, as is the case in football, Swearngin said the basketball committee of the GHSA will be open making “tweaks” to the power ranking system, if a solid case can be made for doing so. He added that any adjustments made to the power ranking system, for all sports, will most likely be approved at the April executive committee meeting of the GHSA.
Here are a half-dozen games worth checking out this weekend:
No. 8 Towns County (16-3, 8-1 in Region 8-Division A, No. 8 public school power ranking) at Providence Christian (11-6, 7-1 in Region 8-Division B, No. 17 private school power ranking), Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 6 St. Francis (11-6, 7-0 in Region 6-Division B, No. 5 private school power ranking) at No. 1 Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (18-2, 6-1 in Region 6-Division A, No. 1 private school power ranking), Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
No. 4 Darlington (13-5, 6-1 in Region 6-Division A, No. 3 private school power ranking) at No. 2 Holy Innocents’ (14-4, 7-0 in Region 5, No. 2 private school power ranking), Saturday, 5 p.m.
Whitefield Academy (9-7, 5-4 in Region 6-Division B, No. 16 private school power ranking) at North Cobb Christian (17-2, 9-0 in Region 6-Division B, No. 1 private school power ranking), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Landmark Christian (13-4, 4-2 in Region 5, No. 9 private school power ranking) at No. 5 W.D. Mohammed (18-1, 5-0 in Region 5, No. 5 private school power ranking), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
No. 6 Wilkinson County (15-1, 4-0 in Region 7-Division B, No. 1 public school power ranking) at Portal (13-4, 4-2 in Region 3-Division A, No. 10 public school power ranking), Saturday, 7:30 p.m.